Most folks who know me in real life understand that I don’t make cakes for people. There are several reasons for this, and I won’t bore you guys with a lengthy explanation, but basically my kitchen isn’t set up for multiple ongoing projects, and I found it very difficult to make money doing cakes from home.
People don’t always understand that home bakers can’t charge the same as commercial bakeries. Publix might be able to turn a profit on a $25 sheet cake, but I can’t. With the cost of ingredients and materials, I would only be compensated a few bucks for my time and effort.
So for me cake decorating is a hobby. I will do cakes for my friends and family, IF they ask, but I don’t typically charge them. Even my kids usually end up decorating their own birthday cakes, with my help if necessary. What’s that saying about the shoemaker’s children?
Way back in November of 1999 I did a wedding cake for a dear friend. This was before I had kids, so I had more free time, and I was also working at a bakery at the time, which made it easier because the bride ordered the cake from the bakery, and I did the gum paste grapes and flowers from home. This was back when rolled fondant was only just coming into fashion, and before that bakery even offered it as an option, but they agreed to make some rolled fondant and let me do this cake. Here’s a picture of the final cake, which used to be in my blog header, back when I had one.
I was so proud of this cake at the time, but now when I look at this photo I see all kinds of things I wish I’d done differently. But I haven’t used it for a “Should’ve Done Sunday” post–and I won’t–because the bride liked it, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
A couple of weeks ago I agreed to make a wedding cake for an old friend (old in that I’ve known the bride since she was 3 years old, but she’s actually way younger than me) because her wedding cake arrangements had fallen through. This was pretty much at the last minute since her wedding was yesterday. So for once I have a legitimate reason for not maintaining my blog! I haven’t been a lazy slacker. I was busy working on the flowers for this cake.
Another friend, who is also friends with the bride and did the flower arrangements for the wedding reception, let me take over her incredibly nice (and very large) kitchen for two days so I could bake, ice, and store the tiers. She also placed the gum paste flowers on the big cake for me and provided the fresh roses for the satellites. By the time I got to that point it was only a few hours before the wedding, and I had run out of creative mojo. Not that I have much to begin with, but flower placement isn’t my forte. I can make them all day long, but I’m rarely 100% happy with how I arrange them on the cake, so I was happy to hand that job over to somebody else.
I’m very pleased with how it all came together. Three different people asked me if it was fondant, which is a HUGE compliment considering the cake was iced with cream cheese buttercream. Never underestimate the power of Viva paper towels, folks!
For anyone wondering, the 16″ and 9″ tiers are white cake, and the 12″, 6″, and satellite cakes are strawberry. All made from a mix, I’m afraid, but it’s really hard to make a strawberry cake from scratch, and Duncan Hines (my preferred brand) mixes were went sale just at the right time–thank you Publix!
I also would like to point out that going to ICES convention last month helped me immensely. That’s where I learned how to smooth icing using the Viva paper towel method from Pat Jacoby, and it’s also where I bought the Fondarific gum paste I used to make the roses. Incidentally, Sugar Drop carries Fondarific now, and the prices there are comparable to Satin Ice, which is excellent news for those of us in the Middle Tennessee area.
Needless to say, I’m taking it easy today. I wish the bride and groom nothing but happiness because they deserve it!